I went to the exhibit tonight hoping to get some inspiration as I've been wrestling with my first still life composition. I'm committed to three objects, a cup a bowl and a glass and I've drawn them on the canvas, but I can't decide on a background. I know I'm just learning how to mix values and match colors, but I'm stuck. I really loved Goya. He painted some beautiful still lifes that he kept in his studio all of his life. Here's one, some dead fish (the hues are more intense especially the orange, in person): http://www.yareah.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Francisco-de-Goya-painter-of-meat-and-fish.jpg
Here's another, two dead hares (the blood stain between the top hares hind legs is the color of fresh blood, not brown as in the photograph:http://blog.exhibitiona.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Goya-still-life-with-dead-hares-at-The-Met.jpg
All of his still lifes have dark backgrounds. I'll go with that. There is also deep shadow. I'll go with that also. I won't however be painting dead animals, just pottery, glassware and a styrafoam coffee cup.
And yes, I went up to the Sargent rooms and looked closely at the Sargents. My mother who went with me really liked the Daughters of Edward Darley Boit - who doesn't? But I was taken by this Sargent, "No Nonsense". I'd never seen it before. I pointed out to my mother how the color of the bed sheets is dark brown and yet our brains tell us it's a linen white sheet (in shadow). I owe it to Mark's blog post on the white's of the eye in portrait painting for this awareness. http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/an-artist-in-his-studio-31260
I like this paintng especially because it reminds me of my own studio which is cramped in a spare bedroom.